Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Publishing Decision

This is the first of several blog posts on the publishing process, written in conjunction with my new book -- Writing When Time is Scarce And Getting the Work Published.
Through the years, many writers I know have wondered about whether to publish their work. There are many considerations in making a publish-or-don’t-publish decision. Some involve trade-offs with other activities. Others include whether you want to spend time on the business end of the writing equation. 

 To me, it’s worth it to spend about ninety percent of my work time writing and ten percent on the publishing and marketing end. If you want to share your work, I think you may also find it a worthwhile split. Keep in mind that even if you work with a publisher, you'll spend time interacting with their staff, and they definitely expect you to market a lot.

If you try hard to  get a major publisher and don't succeed, you have not failed. Assuming your book is well done, it's simply not what they are looking for now.

 Even as recently as ten years ago, reaching an audience meant finding a publisher (not easy at all) or publishing yourself and turning the product over to a printer. If you want to sell a novel, the cost-per-book needs to be low. Authors would have to buy 1,000 copies to make the price-per-book reasonable. In the 'old days,' you worked with a distributor or visited bookstores around the region –- carting a trunk full of books.

Things have changed.

Modern self-publishing makes it possible to write your book and produce ebooks or paper copies for next to nothing. Copies are printed as you need them – called print-on-demand publishing, or POD.

Your primary expenses will be for editing and a cover. When new writers say they have no funds for editing, I suggest they hold a rummage sale. That's not a smart-alek remark. We all have too much stuff, and you'll need shelf space for your new books.

No one thing is 'most' important, but one thing is essential. Take your time. You only get once chance to make a first impression.

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 Check out Elaine's web page, sign up for her online classes, or receive her newsletter.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

What's on Your Kindle or Nook?

The price of ebook readers came down slowly in 2010, and then fell faster in following years. On major sales days, Kindles are about $35. I have several, and am on my second Nook. 

But don't ask me to name the hundreds of books on the devices. I remember many of those I've read, and a number I've not. But all too often I'll see a book mentioned and visit its page on Amazon, where I'm informed I bought it two years ago.

Friends -- authors and readers -- say the same thing. We have more books than we could read in a year -- or five.

After a couple years, we've surely lost interest in a book (or fifty). Why do we keep books we don't intend to read? I think it's a combination of enjoying a collection and...laziness. Okay, not laziness, just work avoidance.

When our books sat on shelves, we could quickly search them to find one or decide which to cull to make room for more. My husband can walk in a room with 400 books and snatch the one he wants from a shelf. And they aren't organized by title or author. They're like his children -- he generally knows where they are and can't get rid of them.

Physical books signify comfort for many. So, what are ebooks? I think they're more like money in the bank. There if we need them, but able to be removed anytime.

With so many books on my ereaders, I don't know what I'm missing unless I spend an hour or so going through the book covers. I'm beginning to think that if I take off the books I'll never read it'll be easier to find the ones I was really excited about when I downloaded them. 


So, a new goal. Not a New Year's Resolution. I don't have a good track record with those. Each week, I'm going to take five books off my Kindle. I won't stress about it -- if I take off twenty and can't bear to part with others, I'll keep them. 

I'll report back, not just on the number removed, but whether it's easier to find the books I want to read. And then I'll try to review more of the ones I've read.

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 Check out Elaine's web page, sign up for her online classes, or receive her newsletter.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Smashwords if You're on a Budget (or Not)

The website for ebook distributor Smashwords (www.smashwords.com) is a great place to find low-cost or free books. Some will be by authors you know, others by unknowns. As of today (January 2019) 505,672 books appear on Smashwords and 79,672 are free.

The book that made me laugh the most came from there, though I see it's no longer published. However, it's still in my Smashwords Library (where you store books you download at the site).

As a reader, you can download books in any format and read them on a computer or on your ereader -- any brand of ereader.

 As an author, I like Smashwords because I can load a book there and sell it on a number of sites. Back in 2010, I definitely didn't know how to self-publish. Smashwords' publications taught me much about ebook production. Its founder, Mark Coker, writes in an informal style, so learning was easier for me.

I don't do a lot of free books, since writing is much of my income. One is a short story called Tess and All Kinds. It's from the point of view of a child who has moved in with grandma, who manages a storage facility.

I can do coupons to make a book free, so if you see one you like, give a holler in the comments section.

Happy reading!
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Check out Elaine's web page, sign up for her online classes, or receive her newsletter.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Respecting Your Time to Write

     Each January, some people decide that they are finally going to start that book or blog, or finish a project that's been sitting in a  drawer or on a flash drive. But where to find the time?

Time is not elastic. I love that expression, which economists use to describe time-limited resources. Perhaps you ended one job or a child left for college, so you have the often-wished-for block of time. More likely you will absorb writing into an already busy life. It's not so much about finding time as making it -- an hour or two per day to put your backside in a chair. 

Using a computer without Internet access helps you stay focused.

If you want your family and friends to take you seriously as a part-time writer and respect your time, be prepared to be strict about your availability to others. Sometimes priorities have to change. That’s okay. Just get back on your schedule – or take a printed copy of a chapter and read at a doctor's appointment.

We usually love the people we live with. However, the spouse who expects you to make them a sandwich might need help understanding that (assuming good health) they can put the peanut butter on the bread as well as you can. If they don't usually make their own Saturday lunch, leave the ingredients in an easily located spot. They'll get used to the new routine.

Schedule your breaks, don't let others dictate them. And as your family and friends respect your time to write, put your fingers on the keyboard and get cracking.
Elaine L. Orr
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                    Check out Elaine's web page at www.elaineorr.com